Tag Archive | "Military"

Black History Month – Why we still need it

by P Gregory: Owner Editor of the Black Presence Website.

So, Black History Month 2010 is upon us, and as I sit here and take a breather after working hard to get the website to a state of readiness, I wonder how long it will be before the mud starts flying?

Black History Month, is at best controversial in Britain for a number of reasons. There are those on the right of the political spectrum, who believe that it is “Racist and Divisive” .   They say that Black History Month smacks of hypocrisy, when white organisations are not afforded the same courtesy.

They believe, that to celebrate Black History exclusively, is to separate black people from the rest of the population, and that ultimately leads to deeper division.

Then,  we have those on the left of politics, who believe that Black History Month is absolutely essential. That Black people have been oppressed for far too long and that the creation of a dedicated month, of events and seminars, creation of websites, informative newsletters and media programming, empowers black people to re-connect with their lost and hidden heritage. They believe that the removal or cessation of such an event would be racist in the extreme, and an attack on the civil liberties of black people.

So where is the middle ground?

Before we get into the rights and wrongs of whether Black History Month should even exist, allow me to make some observations.

I approach the whole subject with the observation that Black History Month EXISTS.   It existed in America first, and it exists now in Britain and has since the mid Eighties, although few people would really know it. The very fact that it exists, suggests to me that any person of African/Caribbean origin, who has any depth of character, will have been involved in some way.

  • If there are seminars, information or exhibitions available to you, that will help you increase knowledge of self and national identity, then why not go along?
  • Why not increase your knowledge about history?
  • Why not contextualise your own life in the history of not just your own ethnic group, but in the world community?

Anyone who rejects this idea, simply because they feel uninterested, is in my opinion, cutting their nose to spite their face. Refusing to learn because you don’t like the subject matter is the tactic of a child.

For those who exhibit at, and organise events during Black History Month, not only is it a perfect time, to reach out to your own demographic and beyond, offering  information about your services and products, it is also a fantastic networking opportunity.

Businesses who ignore Black History Month, are simply sleeping. Regardless of your ethnicity, this is a time of economic hardship, and events that bring people together en-masse bring with them an opportunity for businesses to sell, make money and to form strong community links.

My feelings regarding the morality of Black History Month are that the idea behind Black History Month is not racist.

Sure,  mostly Black people tend to be featured, but one has to ask oneself, ” why this is”?

It is simply because many of the personalities highlighted during Black History Month are conspicuous by their absence in mainstream accepted history.

A good example is the wholesale exclusion of Black contribution to the defence of the realm during Two World Wars.

When learning about WW1, Individual stories are rarely focused on.   Figures like Walter Tull go un-noticed. What was special about him, critics would say. Well, he was special.   He was the only Black Commissioned Officer in the British Army at that time. This was due to a rule forbidding non whites from leading White troops. Nevertheless he managed to rise from the rank of Private soldier to Lieutenant in just 2 years.

French Colonial Troops

French Colonial Troops

During and after the First World War the use by France of African Troops to occupy the German Rhineland is rarely mentioned, even though there is a lot of documentary evidence.

Little is made of their contribution, or the treatment they faced by the Germans if they were captured. Even less is told of the racist propaganda they had to endure whilst they were doing their duty overseas. Even the British Press printed stories of the “Black Horror on the Rhine“, siding with the very people who had recently been Britain’s enemy, making accusations based on hearsay and racial prejudice.

Jonny Smythe

Jonny Smythe

During World War 2, The Royal Airforce is widely credited with saving Britain from invasion by thwarting the Luftwaffe’s attempts to crush British spirit and achieve total air superiority.

It is often mentioned that Polish, and Canadians served in the Royal Airforce during WW2, but the Indians and Caribbean Airmen and Women hardly ever get a mention.  In fact, recently I saw a glossy magazine commemorating, the Battle of Britain, not one Black or Asian Airman was featured or even mentioned.

Perhaps the publishers didn’t know of their involvement? Perhaps they did, but chose to omit them, if so why?
Surely if Black and Asian shoppers felt more of a connection with the events of WW2,  then they might spend their hard earned cash on that product?

Until as recently as 1997,  Caribbean Troops who served in both Wars weren’t even invited to the Cenotaph to commemorate the War Dead. All this amounts to a white washing of history, and one could be forgiven for thinking that black people, simply didn’t participate in either world War. Today there are so few old comrades left, that without a concerted effort to insert their efforts into the public consciousness, who would ever know of their efforts?

Of course, there are countless examples of Black Britons I could use to illustrate this point but the loss of Black history and Black contribution to British History in general is lamentable indeed. Not just for Black people, but for all Britons regardless of colour . It is important that as British citizens we have a detailed historical record of our past. The Internet now provides new ways to locate, present and access that information, not just to each other, but to the whole world.

Until the above examples and countless others find their way into the majority of history reports, the school curriculum and publications, then Black History Month will always be needed, because without it, we simple aren’t getting the full picture.

Related Links

Walter Tull

Caribbean Aircrew in WW2

Memorial Gates- We Also Served

Senegalese Tirailleurs

BBC Radi4 – Black History month the Usual Suspects

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Black Footballers in Britain-Walter Tull

Walter Tull was born in Folkestone on 28th April 1888. His father was a carpenter from Barbados who had moved to Folkestone and married a local woman. By the age of nine, Walter had lost both his parents, and when he was 10 he and his brother Edward were sent to a Methodist orphanage in Bethnal Green. His brother left the orphanage two years later, was adopted by a Scottish family and became a dentist. Meanwhile, Walter played for the orphanage football team, and in 1908, began playing for Clapton FC. Within a few months he had won winners’ medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup. In March 1909 the Football Star called him ‘the catch of the season’.

In 1909 he signed as a professional for Tottenham Hotspur, and experienced for the first time spectator racism when Spurs travelled to play Bristol City. According to one observer, ‘a section of the spectators made a cowardly attack on him in language lower than Billingsgate.’ The correspondent continued:

“Let me tell those Bristol hooligans that Tull is so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men who play football whether they be amateur or professional. In point of ability, if not actual achievement, Tull was the best forward on the field”

In October 1911 Tull moved to Northampton Town where he played half-back and scored nine goals in 110 senior appearances. When the First World War broke out, be became the first Northampton player to sign up to join the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and in November 1915 his battalion arrived in France.

The Army soon recognised Tull’s leadership qualities and he was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant. In July 1916, Tull took part in the major Somme offensive. Tull survived this experience but in December 1916 he developed trench fever and was sent home to England to recover.

Tull and other officers

Tull had impressed his senior officers and recommended that he should be considered for further promotion. When he recovered from his illness, instead of being sent back to France, he went to the officer training school at Gailes in Scotland. Despite military regulations forbidding “any negro or person of colour” being an officer, Tull received his commission in May, 1917.

Lieutenant Walter Tull was sent to the Italian front. This was an historic occasion because Tull was the first ever black officer in the British Army. He led his men at the Battle of Piave and was mentioned in dispatches for his “gallantry and coolness” under fire.

Tull stayed in Italy until 1918 when he was transferred to France to take part in the attempt to break through the German lines on the Western Front. On 25th March, 1918, 2nd Lieutenant Tull was ordered to lead his men on an attack on the German trenches at Favreuil. Soon after entering No Mans Land, Tull was hit by a German bullet. Tull was such a popular officer that several of his men made valiant efforts under heavy fire from German machine-guns to bring him back to the British trenches. These efforts were in vain as Tull had died soon after being hit. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medal and recommended for a Military Cross.

He was the first British-born black army officer and the first black officer to lead white British troops into battle.

Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black Soldiers, Black Sports Stars, Caribbean HistoryComments (4)


GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The body of former President Janet Jagan is to be cremated immediately following her state funeral here on Tuesday.

Jagan died early Saturday morning at the Georgetown Hospital. She was 88 years old.

On Tuesday, the funeral procession will depart her Georgetown residence at 8:00 am and will stop directly in front of the Office of the President where a military procession will begin.

A statement from the Office of the President said the cortege will then proceed south to parliament building for the state funeral service, scheduled for 8:30 am. Earlier, the government declared Monday and Tuesday as National Days of Mourning.


Read full article>>

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John Blanke A Black Trumpeter In The Court of King Henry VIII

It appears that John Blanke, an African trumpeter, was a regular musician at the courts of both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Musicians’ payments were noted in the accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber, who was responsible for paying the wages.

There are several payments recorded to a ‘John Blanke, the blacke trumpeter‘. This trumpeter was paid 8d a day, first by Henry VII and then from 1509 by Henry VIII.

On New Year’s Day 1511 King Henry VIII was presented with a son by his wife, Catherine of Aragon. As was the tradition to celebrate major festivals such as coronations and royal births and marriages, Henry held a great tournament at Westminster.
Tournaments were a continuation of a tradition that gained popularity during the Roman era. They were originally a form of military training: games and exercises designed to instil discipline into young men and teach them the art of bearing arms. Tournaments later developed into an art form, combining elements of drama, music and poetry.

Across northern Europe, tournaments had become a kind of team game by the early 12th century.  Each team comprised a company of knights under the leadership of their lord whom they followed and served in wartime. Tournaments also had a chivalric and romantic side. Ladies watching the tournament audience had a chance to see their heroes prove their skills, strength and courage.  Knights hoped to win the affections of the ladies by their outstanding displays.

John Blanke in The Westminster Tournament Roll

Since  15th century therebecame a growing desire to record spectacles and ceremonials by depicting them in artwork or embroidery.  Henry VIII wanted such a pictorial record made of his tournament to mark the birth of his male child. He commissioned the Westminster Tournament Roll, a unique treasure which is held at the College of Arms.   The Tournament roll  is a pictorial illuminated manuscript, a continuous roll approximately 60 feet long. It is a narrative of the beginning, middle and end of the tournament, which took place over two days.

John Blanke - Features on the Westminster Tournament Roll

John Blanke – Features on the Westminster Tournament Roll

In the Westminster Tournament Roll, the king occupies a prominent position. Henry is shown surrounded by his footmen, officials and other dignitaries, a a crowd of nobles, the officers of arms and six trumpeters. Among the trumpeters  is a Black man. He appears twice on the Roll: once on the way from the court and again on the way back.   Historian Sydney Anglo, believes he is almost certainly the same “John Blanke”, the ‘blacke trumpeter’ mentioned in the Treasurer’s accounts.

Henry VIII’s tournament was a costly extravaganza, The roll shows us that a Black man was included in one of the most magnificent pageants of his time, dressed formally as a mounted musician, perhaps he belonged to the mounted troops of the court?

Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (1984), Peter Fryer
John Blanke – National Archive

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The Visual Representation, Role and Origin of Black Soldiers in British Army Regiments During the Early Nineteenth Century.

The Visual Representation, Role and Origin of Black Soldiers in British Army Regiments During the Early Nineteenth Century.
Presented by Mr John D Ellis as part of the requirement of the MA Degree in Nineteenth Century Culture and Society.
University of Nottingham, September 2000.

The thesis utilised contemporary visual and documentary evidence, (the latter including pension records and regimental description books containing physical descriptions facilitating the identification of black soldiers), in order to examine The Visual Representation, Role and Origin of Black Soldiers in British Army Regiments During the Early Nineteenth Century. It focused on black soldiers serving in what have hitherto been considered “white” British cavalry and infantry regiments, (based on the widely held but incorrect assumption that the presence of black soldiers in their ranks was a twentieth century phenomenon), rather than “foreign raised” or colonial regiments such as the West India Regiment and the East India Company.
Prior to the nineteenth century blacks were frequently employed as servants to Army officers, indicating their owner s “rank and opulence”, and subsequently being depicted as such in the portraits of officers in much the same way as they were for civilians, although of course they also reinforced their owner s status in the Army, as well as wider society. Black military musicians were initially employed by high status Household and Cavalry regiments because of their “natural propensity for music”, and for the purpose of promoting regimental rather than individual, image and status. Consequently, the employment of black military musicians became intrinsically linked with high status units, even though after 1757, and the establishment of enlisted musicians Army wide, many other regiments came to employ them.

Black soldiers were represented by numerous artists in a variety of genres, invariably linking them with Household regiments, London and the monarchy. Morier s Trumpeter, 1st Horse Guards, c.1751, was of a black Life Guards musician in a series commissioned for King George II. The Relief of the Guard at St. James s Palace, c.1790, was a print depicting an every day scene in London, (which included three black musicians), whilst Isaac Cruickshank s Triumphal Entry of 100,000 Crowns, c.1791, was a satirical sketch depicting the Duke of York entering London preceded by black military musicians. However, in many of these pictures, the representation of black soldiers was influenced by contemporary attitudes to blacks, with them frequently being portrayed as having a casual approach to violence, being lazy and ill disciplined, or simply loyal but passive figures.

By the early nineteenth century the practice of employing black soldiers was widespread in the Army. All the Household and most Cavalry regiments had them, and in the line infantry 41 of 103 regiments on the establishment, are known to have employed West Indian born black soldiers at some point in the early nineteenth century, (this figure excludes those black soldiers born elsewhere). Black soldiers were found to originate from all the established regions of the Diaspora; such as Africa, North America and the East and West Indies, (the latter being most numerous), and including lesser known areas such as Nova Scotia, England and Ireland, (George Carville, the last black drummer of the 29th Foot was born in Limerick).

Whilst the Army is known to have procured slaves for the West India Regiment, no evidence exists to link the practice with any of the black soldiers or regiments who were the focus of this thesis. Inevitably some must have been, however, the issue of slavery may well have been deliberately kept “invisible”, (in light of the jealously guarded traditionally volunteer nature of the Army), thus ensuring that any references to, or indicators of, an individuals enslaved status were deliberately omitted from their records. In contrast with the lack of information regarding slavery, both Ukawsaw Gronniosaw s account of his motivation for enlistment in the 28th Foot, and the depiction of black soldiers in abolitionist imagery, suggests that the Army often acted as a place of refuge for escaped slaves or blacks whose freedom was threatened. It was also the chosen occupation of many black men who were already free, and it is possible to identify a group of black “journeyman soldiers”, who continually re-enlisted for service after discharge, (although socio-economic factors influenced this).

Even though the practice of employing black soldiers was long standing and wide spread, proportionately few were promoted. In the nineteenth century Army literacy was the key to promotion, and whilst blacks were often as literate as whites, they were not promoted in the same proportions. Partly this was a result of the lack of opportunities for advancement their musical role offered, but it was also no doubt due to the distaste many whites felt towards black soldiers holding positions of authority. The few that did achieve non-commissioned rank were invariably those with extensive campaign experience, who perhaps, in the face of popular prejudices concerning their “mental and moral inferiority and ill disciplined nature”, had through their participation in combat proved themselves “the exception to the rule”, (George Rose of Jamaica was the highest ranking enlisted black soldier found, a Sergeant in the Highland 42nd Foot who had previously served in the Netherlands and Waterloo campaigns).

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of a “cult of heroic sacrifice”, which prized and venerated war wounds and campaign service, (although paradoxically Britain itself has a shameful record of ill treating former enlisted soldiers). Within this context, the hitherto exclusively ceremonial role of black military musicians, as expressed by historians and visually represented by contemporary images was compared with the actual military service records of black soldiers. It was found that whilst the permanent commitment of Household units to London ensured that black soldiers in those units remained on ceremonial duties, their counterparts in other regiments played a full and active part in all the major campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars, (including the Peninsular, North American and Waterloo campaigns), and received the same decorations as their white peers. In addition to George Rose, a number of other black soldiers received the Waterloo Medal, including; William Wilson of Barbados and William Affleck of St. Kitts, after service with the 13th and 10th Hussars respectively. Whilst in 1848, the latter, was only one of a number of former black soldiers to receive the retrospectively awarded Military General Service Medal, (in Affleck s case with clasps for the Peninsular battles of Sahagun & Benevente, Vittoria, Orthes and Toulouse). However, despite the visual evidence to the contrary, not all black soldiers served as military musicians; Joseph Fergus of St. Kitts “carried arms as a Private” in the 2nd Foot Guards from 1814 to 1833, whilst Estiphania Pappin of St. Domingo served as a Private in the 39th Foot in the Peninsular, later being promoted to Corporal.

In the period following the Napoleonic Wars patriotism inspired a public demand for military spectacle, within which military imagery was an important and popular part, and black soldiers were represented in a variety of genres painted by a variety of artists. When regiments either commissioned or produced art, black soldiers were invariably involved as either prominent characters in portraits of senior regimental officers, the subject of military costume studies, or in detail in genre pictures.

There was also a connection between the visual representation of black soldiers and the subject of slavery. French artists used military costume studies of black soldiers to commercially exploit the demand for military imagery in Bourbon France, and to make a political statement about the equality of blacks and the hypocrisy of the Republic by way of slavery and “liberty. “In Britain, Sir David Wilkie s Chelsea Pensioners., c.1822, (one of the most prominent paintings of the nineteenth century), used the representation of a black soldier both to pay tribute to Wellington s role in abolition in France, and to lend a basis of moral superiority to Britain s victory in the Napoleonic Wars; showing that British “Union” was founded not only on war, but on a sense of national integrity, based on moral superiority and strength of character regarding slavery. However, a comparison of the identity provided by Wilkie for his black soldier in the exhibition catalogue, with the service records of real black soldiers, suggests that the identity provided, (a non-combatant refugee from a French West Indies colony, serving as a military musician in the 1st Foot Guards), had more to do with expressing populist views on the French Republic s treatment of blacks, maintaining artistic conventions by way of the non-combatant status of blacks, and the desire to perpetuate the image of a benevolent Britain graciously emancipating the victims of other country s brutal enslavement. In reality the West Indies born black soldier, (if he was a slave at all), would have been as likely to be fleeing British as French slavery, and have seen combat anywhere from the East Indies to North America to Waterloo.

Despite their extensive presence and high profile, black soldiers were subject to the exclusion and marginalisation from contemporary visual representations and narratives. Whilst to some extent this was due to their lowly enlisted status, it was “race” that led to marginalisation in military costume study, (in which the presence of both armed and non-commissioned black soldiers was deliberately ignored in favour of that of the military musician), and their complete exclusion from battle art. With regard to battle art, the visual encoding of “racial hierarchies”, meant it would have been impossible for artists to represent blacks serving alongside their white peers in scenes of significant national victories, because of the equality inherent in such images, (both physically and with regards to contribution).

The Napoleonic Wars produced a plethora of enlisted and commissioned writers and diarists, but only two mentioned the presence of black soldiers, and then only in passing. The list of writers who served in combat alongside black soldiers, but omitted to mention their presence serves as a “who s who” of Napoleonic military writers. General Sir George Napier s account of his time in the Peninsula with the 43rd Foot omits to mention the presence of the mulatto Bugler Charles Arundell of St. Kitts, even though the latter served at Copenhagen in 1807, Corunna in 1809, and in every action in which the 43rd was engaged from the Battle of Coa in 1810 to the end of the Peninsular War in the South of France in 1814, and New Orleans and the Capture of Paris in 1815″, and who must therefore, based on campaign experience alone, have been a prominent regimental character. Likewise the memoirs of Thomas Morris of the 73rd Foot fail to mention George Rose, even though the latter served alongside him for five years, including the Netherlands and Waterloo campaigns. This lack of references to black soldiers in the narratives of their white contemporaries, is no doubt due to the fact that many memoirs were published after the 1840s, with the subsequent decline in the status of blacks ensuring that when their white former comrades came to record their memoirs, blacks were written out, in order that the notion of a “low status group”, should not by their inclusion, serve to denigrate from the achievements of the authors.

The practice of employing black soldiers came to an end through a combination of the growing belief in racial difference, including “scientific racism”, the racist diatribe of the plantocratic scribes and their supporters, and the declining social status of blacks in Britain. However, whilst the recruitment of blacks terminated in the 1820s, there appears not to have been any single concerted decision to discharge blacks, rather that existing numbers were allowed to gradually decline before dying out altogether in the 1840s. Subsequently, a form of unofficial segregation did descend on the Army, and the exclusion that followed was so successful in driving the presence of black soldiers underground that until now, their role in defining moments in both regimental and national history, has been forgotten by the regiments they served in, the Army and Britain.

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Black Soldiers in the British Army-John Ellis

John Ellis has been regular contributor to “The Black Presence in Britain Website. His specialist research focuses on the black presence in the British Armed Forces before the 20th Century.

In the synopsis of my MA thesis, (featured on this site), I referred to a number of Black soldiers who served in British regiments during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

It would of course be easy to leave such men as? faceless individuals ,however, military records from the period are sufficiently accurate that we are able to examine their careers. Below are the biographical and service details of eleven soldiers, who are fairly representative of those being found by my research. NB. All dates are given in the British manner, all spelling as found in original records. West Indies Born.

The majority of the Black soldiers thus far found originated from the West Indies, something which reflected the? Triangular trade. ) The 29th Foot, (now the? Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment ), has always been proud of its tradition of employing black soldiers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The practice began in the early 1750s, and whilst initially ceremonial, Black soldiers were fully trained as soldiers and served as company drummers, accompanying the regiment on campaign in North America, the East and West Indies and most famously the Peninsular.

John Macnell was one of the earliest black soldiers in the regiment. He was born in Antigua in 1744, enlisted in the 29th in 1756 aged 12 years, (not an unusual age for either black or white), and was discharged to pension in London in 1777 as disabled. He was described as? a Negro . Macnell sources: WO 12/4493. WO 120/8. 2) Probably because of the perceived racial hierarchy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, few Black soldiers were promoted to positions of authority over whites, (although paradoxically their records reveal them to have been highly respected soldiers). Of the few Black soldiers to be promoted, it is clear that extensive campaign experience was one of the criteria, as the records of one Estiphania Pappin reveal.

Estiphania Pappin. Born in St. Domingo, West Indies and enlisted in the 39th Foot, (now the? Devon & Dorset Regiment ), in Malta 1st March 1808 aged 20 years. Promoted Corporal 01/02/1828.? Served in Malta 1 year, Sicily 14 months, Peninsula 3 years and was present at several engagements – Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Garris, Orthes and Toulouse. In America 1 year, in France 3 years and New South Wales 9 months.? Discharged as a Corporal to a pension of 1s per day, 30th June 1832, at his own request.? ….his conduct has been that of a particularly regular, sober, well conducted man.? On discharge he was 441/2 years old, 5 /10? tall, had grey hair, black eyes, a dark complexion -? a man of colour? – and was a labourer by trade.

Pappin Sources: WO 97/557. 3)

A number of Black soldiers appear to have spent their military service undertaking ceremonial duties in London, including one Edward Bennaway.

Edward Bennaway. Born in Martinique, West Indies and enlisted for life in the 2nd Life Guards in Westminster, Middlesex 25th December 1812 aged 28 years. Discharged as a Private to a pension of 1s per day 24th August 1827 due to? having completed his period of service.? On discharge he was of extremely good character, 52 years old, 6 /0? tall, had black hair, grey eyes, was? a man of colour , and was a fisherman by trade.

Bennaway Sources: WO 97/1. 4)

In 1818 the American former slave and boxer Tom Molineaux died in the barracks of the 77th Foot, (now the? Princess of Wales? Royal Regiment ), in Galway, Ireland. As he lay dying he was nursed by the Black bandsmen of the regiment including one Charles Smart.

Charles Smart. Height at Enlistment: 5/71/4. Age on Enlistment: 25 years. Complexion: Black. Eyes: Black. Hair: Black Woolly. Visage: Round. Born: Jamaica. Trade: Labourer. Place of Enlistment: Cashel. Date of Enlistment: 25th April 1816. Length of Service:Unlimited. Discharged in Jamaica 31st December 1833,? On receiving a gratuity.? Smart Source: WO 25/473. 5)

Given their position at the top of the regimental hierarchy a number of cavalry regiments employed Black soldiers as military musicians. However, in battles such as the Peninsular and Waterloo these men served as either troop trumpeters or as ordinary Privates.

John Monatt. Born in St. George s, Grenada and enlisted for unlimited service in the 5th Dragoon Guards, (now the? Royal Dragoon Guards ), in Canterbury, Kent 11th April 1812 aged 21 years. Discharged as a Private to a pension 27th April 1825 due to rheumatism and general ill health. Surgeon noted? I hereby certify that Private John Monatt of the 5th Dragoon Guards is unfit for service, in consequence of chronic rheumatism and general ill health……next few words indecipherable…contracted in service and resulting in a delicate constitution.? On discharge he was of good character, 34 years old, 5/10? tall, had black hair,hazel eyes, a tawny complexion and was a servant by trade. In 1848 John Monatt, formerly of the 5th Dragoon Guards, was awarded the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, with a clasp for Toulouse. Monatt Sources: WO 97/96. 6)

William Wilson. Born in Barbadoes, West Indies and initially enlisted in the 55th Foot 25th April 1795 aged 24 years. Enlisted in the 28th Light Dragoons 30/04/1798. Enlisted in the 13th Light Dragoons 26/02/1803. Served as a Private at Waterloo, and received the Waterloo Medal. Discharged as a Private to a pension of 9d per day 20th May 1816 as worn out. On discharge he was 37years old, 5 /61/2? tall,? a black man? and was a musician by trade. Wilson Source: WO 97/146. 7) During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries much of the British Army was employed in the Far East, and many Black soldiers spent their service there, being involved in the numerous campaigns.

Elisha Rosia. Born in Martinique, West Indies and enlisted for unlimited service in the 69th Foot. (now the? Royal Regiment of Wales ), in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, 12th January 1803, aged 25 years. Discharged as a Private to a pension of 1s/1d per day, 28th August 1823,? being worn out in service.?? Very good and deserving.? On discharge he was 40 years old, 5 /51/2? tall, had black hair, black eyes,a black complexion and was a hair dresser by trade. Some doubt as to age. In 1848 an Elisha Rosia, formerly of the 69th Foot, was awarded the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, with a bar for Java. Drew pension in Madras until death in January 1848. Rosia Sources: WO 97/822. 120/69-70. Born elsewhere. Whilst the majority of Black soldiers found can be identified as coming from the West Indies, others came in roughly equal measure from Africa, continental North America, (i.e. the United States and Canada), the East Indies and Britain and Ireland. Cool The 88th Foot had a number of Black soldiers serving with it in the Peninsular campaign, and even after the Napoleonic Wars continued to recruit Black soldiers.

Thomas Clarke.88th Foot. Height at Enlistment: 5 /81/2 . Height at 24 years: 5 /81/2 . Age on Enlistment:23 years. Complexion: Black. Eyes: Black. Hair: Black. Visage: Round. Born: Africa. Parish of Birth: Goree. Trade: Servant. Enlisted: Liverpool. Date of Enlistment: 17th July1820. Length of Service: Life. Recruiter: HQ Regt., (Col. Sgt Scrivins). Goree, is a small island off Cape Verde in Senegal. Captured from the French in the early part of the Napoleonic Wars. Clarke Sources: WO 25/517. 9)

Samuel Jones. 99th Foot. Height at Enlistment: 5 /41/2 . Age on Enlistment: 15 yrs. Complexion: Black. Eyes: Black. Hair: Woolly black. Born: Calcutta, East Indies. Trade:Labourer. Enlisted: Dublin. Date of enlistment: 23rd February 1810. Period of Service:Unlimited. Recruited by: Sgt. Tewhoy. Jones Source/s: PRO. WO 25/550. 10)

Gibeon Lippett. Born in Rhode Island, (America), and enlisted for unlimited service in the 43rd Foot, (now the? Royal Green Jackets ), in Cork city, County Cork,22nd June 1796, aged 17 years. Served 185 days as a Private, 29 years and 103 days as a Drummer, (and 185 days underage).? Served with the regiment 3 years in the West Indies.In the expedition to Copenhagen in 1807, General Sir John Moore s retreat in 1809, and in every siege and action in which the 43rd Regiment was engaged from the Battle of Coa 24th July 1810, to the end of the War in the South of France. Served at New Orleans in America, 8th January, 1815 and present at the Capture of Paris in July 1815.? Discharged as a Private to a pension, 5th April 1826,? his constitution being worn out by long and severe service.? On discharge he was illiterate, of very good character, 57 years old, 5 /83/4? tall, had black hair,black eyes, a mulatto complexion, and was a sail maker by trade. Lippett Source: WO 97/587. 11)

By the mid 1840s the practice of employing Black soldiers alongside whites is believed to have finished, and thereafter Blacks are thought to have been unofficially restricted to the West India Regiment and East India Company until World War One. Considering the long tradition of Black soldiers serving in the 29th Foot, (see entry #1), it is fitting to finish this short study with George Carville.

George Carville. A Drummer. Height at Enlistment: 6/1/4 . Age on Enlistment: 18 years. Complexion: Black. Eyes: Black. Hair: Black Woolly. Visage: Round. Born: Limerick. Parish of Birth: St. Mary s. Trade: Labourer. Place of Enlistment: Mullingar. Date of Enlistment: 26th of February 1823. Length of Service: Unlimited. Recruiter: Col. Sir John Buchan. Died at Ghargeepore, (India), 15th July 1843. The last black Drummer of the 29th Foot, believed to have died of cholera. Left a credit of approximately five pounds in a will for his nominated next of kin, his (white) regimental comrade Private JosephPrindale. Carville Sources: WO 25/364. WO 25/3255.

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African-American Veterans Honored

Tuskeegee Airmen

Tuskegee Airmen

The contributions of African-American patriots to America’s safety were ignored or downplayed for generations. It has been only during the past several decades that efforts have been made to rectify the injustice. On Friday, an old airfield in Tuskegee, Ala., was designated as a National Historic Site.

You may well have guessed already why the place is significant: It is where the famed Tuskegee Airmen trained before going overseas to fight in World War II. Many Americans are familiar with the Airmen. They were a group of African-Americans permitted to fly fighter planes, at a time when too many bigots insisted that the new pilots could not possibly perform well in combat.
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